What is heartworm and why it so dangerous for dogs?

Heartworm is a parasite of dogs that is found most commonly in hot, humid areas.

It can uncommonly affect other animals, including cats, but the disease is usually much less severe in this species.

Heartworm does not spread dog to dog, but rather it is spread via mosquitoes that are infected with heartworm larvae.

Mosquitoes can more easily bite short-coated dogs making them more susceptible, however long-haired dogs can get bitten too.

Once the mosquito bites the dog, the heartworm larva enters the skin and starts its lifecycle.

It moves to the bloodstream and reaches the heart and lungs. It takes six months from the time of infection for the heartworm larva to mature and start producing new young larvae.

It often takes several years for worm numbers to accumulate enough to cause signs of disease. For this reason, the actual signs of heartworm disease are usually only seen in dogs two years of age or older.

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